Knicks News, 7/11: Doncic loses favorite coach, Luca Vildoza update after loss to Australia

luke doncic, knicks

There are very few players in the NBA worth unloading the farm for, and Dallas Mavericks star point guard Luka Doncic is one of them. While the New York Knicks are still a distant competitor for Doncic in a trade scenario, the All-NBA player lost his favorite coach in the organization on Sunday, as the Orlando Magic scooped up Jamahl Mosley as their next head coach.

There were reports that Doncic favored Mosley as Dallas’s next head coach, after the organization parted ways with their general manager and HC. Doncic went as far as to say “he’s got the things that are needed for a head coach.”

Does this open up a small door for the Knicks to gauge any trade interest? Possibly, but it is still very unlikely owner Mark Cuban allows Luka to even consider a departure. At the end of the day, the Mavericks have the ability to offer him a max contract on his rookie deal, which is more beneficial and lucrative than acquiring one on a different team.

At just 22 years old, Doncic is already averaging 27+ points on a nightly basis, in addition to 8.6 assists, and a 48% clip from the field last season. Attempting 8.3 shots from downtown, he’s also hit on 35%, which is solid for a high volume shooter.

With Dallas’s organization falling apart at the seams and losing coaches left and right, Luka could force his way out at some point, but he must figure out whether he values a massive payday or the chance to be happy with another organization.

Checking in on Luca Vildoza, New York Knicks foreign signing:

On Saturday, Argentina took on Australia, falling by just three points in Las Vegas during an exhibition match. The Knicks are excited to see what Vildoza can offer them during the 2021-22 season, as a two-way guard that has adequate shooting and solid court vision.

In the defeat on Saturday, Vildoza finished with 11 points, two assists, and hit three shots from range over eight attempts. He shot 33% from the field and 37.5% success from downtown weren’t exactly efficient, but he only featured in 18.5 minutes, a small sample size of work.

As he continues to increase his playing time and chemistry with the Argentinian national team, Luca should see his production increase, and the Knicks will be watching closely.

Chicago Bears: Biggest questions at the QB position

New York Giants, Leonard Williams

The Chicago Bears will start training camp at Halas Hall in just over two weeks, with significant turnover at the quarterback position. The Bears moved on from Mitchell Trubisky this offseason, replacing the former second overall pick with veteran Andy Dalton and rookie Justin Fields. Set to return is also veteran Nick Foles, who started seven games for the Bears in 2020, winning just two games.

As Chicago continues to get ready for the 2021 season, what are three questions at the quarterback position? Let’s find out.

1) How long will Dalton hold off Fields?

The million-dollar question that has every Bears fan buzzing: When will Fields start? Bears head coach Matt Nagy has consistently said this offseason that a plan exists to develop Fields. Part of that plan is hoping Dalton plays well enough to hold off Fields, giving the Bears a stable bridge quarterback.

Chicago has a brutal schedule in 2021 but expect Fields to play at some point. Those in favor of starting the rookie quarterback hope that Fields is starting in Chicago’s week four contest at home against the Detroit Lions. Others prefer to let Fields sit the entire year, similar to how Patrick Mahomes sat behind Alex Smith for 15 games in Kansas City during the 2017 season.

Dalton will need to start off fast week one against the Los Angeles Rams and begin to stack consecutive wins against teams like the Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions, and Las Vegas Raiders to remain starter. That means winning at least four of Chicago’s first five games to have a chance at starting between weeks six and nine.

2) Will the Bill Lazor offense have an impact on Fields’ development?

When the Bears handed playcalling duties to Bill Lazor late in 2020, immediate life was sparked in Chicago’s offense. Heading into 2021, we know that Nagy will call plays but we don’t know what scheme the Bears will run. Should Chicago decide to run the play-action offense it ran with Lazor calling plays, the Bears will significantly slow down the game for Fields, allowing the 11th overall pick to play faster.

Fields has shown he’s a dual-threat quarterback who can hit any throw on the field or hurt a defense with his mobility. Expect the Bears offense to develop a pass-first identity with Fields first read being a deep throw down the field. A play-action offense would open more opportunities for Fields in the middle of the defense, creating additional opportunities for Chicago’s wide receivers.

3) Is Nick Foles more valuable than we all think?

It is a fair question to ask, especially since Foles won just two games in seven starts last season but has been labeled as an incredibly smart player who knows Chicago’s coaching staff and offense. Foles won’t receive any meaningful playing time in 2021 but he can serve as a mentor for Fields to speed up the 11th overall picks development.

Foles’ magical Super Bowl run should also serve as a reminder that any NFL quarterback can get hot at any time, especially in big moments. Fields has had his fair share of big moments at Ohio State but Foles’ presence will instill confidence in a young quarterback who’s willing to do anything needed to succeed, especially since Foles will serve as a sounding board in 2021.

UFC booking Jimmy Crute – Jamahal Hill

The UFC has finalized a fun matchup in the light heavyweight division that will pit two top fifteen contenders against each other. Top up and coming prospects Jimmy Crute (12-2) and Jamahal Hill (8-1, 1 NC) are set to battle it out.

The matchup was first reported by ESPN and it will take place at a UFC Fight Night on October 2nd. Jimmy Crute will be looking to bounce back after he suffered his second loss inside the octagon in his last time out.

Crute was on the main card at UFC 261 in a massive spot against former title challenger Anthony Smith. Unfortunately for Crute, he couldn’t pull out the win. Late in the first round Smith landed a brutal leg kick that damaged Crute’s knee.

The doctor called a stop to the action in between rounds after Crute couldn’t walk without his leg giving out. That loss dropped Crute to 4-2 inside the octagon. While he did lose at UFC 261, people should still be very high on Jimmy Crute.

Quick UFC turnaround for Hill

Much like Jimmy Crute, Jamahal Hill suffered an injury in his last fight. At UFC 263, Hill took on the jiu jitsu ace Paul Craig. Craig pulled guard in the first round and locked in an armbar that dislocated the arm of Hill.

The dislocation along with a barrage of elbows caused the referee to call a stop to the action and Hill suffered the first loss of his career. Prior to that loss, Hill had gone 2-0, 1 NC in three trips inside the octagon.

Hill was coming off of a TKO win over Ovince St. Preux which really showed UFC fans just how good he is. This is a quick turnaround for Hill and I’ll be very curious to see how he looks when he makes the walk in October.

This is an extremely important fight for the division. These are arguably the two best prospects in the division and whoever wins will start marching back up the ladder.

31 questions to Bears camp: Can Cairo Santos have another big year?

The Chicago Bears received a pleasant surprise throughout the 2020 season: Stability at the kicking position due to Kicker Cairo Santos. After starting in 16 games, Santos would convert 93.8 percent of field goals, including going 36-37 on extra-point attempts. This offseason, Chicago opted to bring Santos back, inking the 29 year old veteran to a three-year deal worth $9M, with $4.5M in guaranteed money.

Entering 2021, the hope is that Santos has another big year, giving Chicago a stable kicker through the end of the 2023 season. As good as Santos was last season, wondering whether or not Santos can have another big year in 2021.

Looking at Santos’ numbers from last season, there is a clear trend that exists: He was most accurate from ranges from 20-39 yards, hitting 100 percent of his field goals. Santos also hit 90 percent of his field goals in the 40-49 ranges while also hitting 67 percent of field goals from 50 yards out.

This isn’t Santos’ first stint in Chicago. His first stint came back in 2017, when he kicked just two games for the Bears. Despite bouncing around with the Los Angeles Rams and Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2018, Santos hit just 44.4 percent of field goals in 2019 with the Tennesee Titans.

Number shows that 2020 was a career-year for Santos in terms of production. Heading into 2021, a generalization is that Santos needs to have a career year. A fair expectation would be to see Santos become amongst the best kickers in the NFL, including names like Younghoe Koo (Atlanta Falcons), Jason Sanders (Miami Dolphins), and Greg Zuerlein (Dallas Cowboys).

As Chicago prepares for training camp later this month, the microscope won’t be on Santos but keep an eye on how the eighth-year kicker performs. A major extension this offseason makes him the 17th highest paid kicker in 2021, something that places massive expectations on Santos and the Bears regime who are confident that Santos will have a repeat performance in 2021.

31 questions to Bears camp: What does 2021 hold for OL Alex Bars?

The Chicago Bears will report to Halas Hall for training camp in just over two weeks with an intriguing situation on the offensive line. Chicago released veterans Bobby Massie and Charles Leno Jr. this offseason, indicating that 2021 will see new starters at left and right tackle. Adding depth to the offensive line was also a priority for the Bears this offseason, bringing in names like Elijah Wilkinson but also retaining players like Alex Bars.

Bars, who signed with the Bears as an undrafted free agent following the conclusion of the 2019 NFL Draft enters year three with the hope of possibly starting. While the odds may seem against Bars at the moment, last season saw Bars start eight games, including six starts at right guard, one at center, and one at left guard.

Bars eight starts from last season mean that he’s a versatile option on the interior offensive line, making names like Sam Mustipher, James Daniels, and Cody Whitehair expendable. The scenario of Bars possibly unseating Mustipher, Daniels, or Whitehair is bleak but do not discount what impact Bars can really have, especially as a player who could see some action should the injury bug strike Chicago’s offense.

Per the Bears’ official website, Bars clearly had a major impact on the success of the Bears running game late in the 2020 season, with Bars being a major reason for running back David Montgomery eclipsing 100 yards rushing against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday Night Football in week 12.

Even if Bars ends up being a rotational player in 2021, the extra reps he gains throughout the upcoming season could see Bars push for a starting job in 2022, when the Bears will need to address the right tackle position. At that point, the starting job could be Bars to lose, especially as a player who’s showcased both adaptability and flexibility through his first two seasons.

New York Yankees: Cole goes ballistic, all you need to know about 2nd shutout of the Astros

yankees, gerrit cole

Last night the New York Yankees were hoping to take the series from the Astros; they did it in style with their second shutout of their most hated team. So today, they will go for the sweep of the series.

Gerrit Cole makes a statement

Those critics who said that Gerrit Cole was just an average pitcher without the use of sticky stuff were proven wrong. Cole intentionally or not made a statement last night pitching a complete game shutout of his old team. Cole threw a career-high 129 pitches, refusing to leave the mound.

During the top of the ninth inning, cameras zoned on on Aroldis Chapman warming up in the bullpen. With the Yankees only having a one-run lead, the drama was set up as to who would pitch the ninth. Whoever was to take the mound, they would have to face Jose Altuve. Chapman’s history with Altuve is a nightmare. Cole apparently told Boone he was good to go, and he took the mound in the ninth.

After eight innings, Cole had racked up 11 strikeouts allowing only two Astro hits. In the ninth, Cole allowed a single to Jose Altuve, causing Aaron Boone with two outs, to walk to the mound to remove Cole from the game. Unfortunately, Boone wasn’t aware of what he was walking into. Cole was white-hot, not having any part of leaving the game. After the game, Cole said this of the mound visit: “I said the F-word a lot, and then I just kind of blacked out. I don’t remember what I told him.”

With Alvarez at the plate, he had no shot as Cole fanned him for his twelfth strikeout of the game. Cole’s night was over game over a complete-game shutout of the Houston Astros. It was a game that will go down in Yankee lore.

It was the first time the Yankees had a complete game shutout with twelve strikeouts since Mike Mussina did it in 2002.

Cole won the game the Yankees didn’t hit

Last night’s big story was obviously Gerrit Cole, his 12 strikeouts, his 129 pitches, and his shutout of the Astros. But lurking in the background was a season-long lack of hitting by the New York Yankees. Yes, the Yankees won it, but could only come up with one run on the night, Aaron Judge’s homer in the third, off starter Zack Greinke who lasted four innings in the game.

Other than Judge’s home run, the Yankees could only come up with another 5 hits. All singles except for Gleyber Torres’ double. They went 0-5 with runners in scoring position, leaving seven Yankees stranded as they continued a lack of timely hitting.

Astros’ Dusty Baker praises Cole

We all know that there is no love lost between the Yankees and the Astros after the cheating scandal was revealed from the 2017 season. Many fans believe they cheated again in 2019, although that has not been proved. No Astro player was held responsible, although the manager and general manager were fired. The Astros replaced manager Hinch with one of the most respected names in baseball, Dusty Baker. Baker, the class act he is, had this to say after last night’s game.

“He was good. He was very good..Similar to Tom Seaver.”

Today at 2:10 pm, the New York Yankees will go for the sweep of the Houston Astros. The Yankees are 3 for 8 in sweep attempts. Sunday’s Matinee will feature the Astros Framber Valdez, a lefty that is 5-1 with an ERA of 2.86, against the Yankees’ Jameson Taillon with is 4-4 with an ERA of 5.05. Taillon is coming off his best start of the season against the Seattle Mariners; Taillon went eight innings giving up just one run in the Yankee’s 12-1 victory. Valdez is coming off two wins, one against Cleveland and one against the Athletics. He gave up five earned runs in the Oakland victory. The only Yankees with extensive experience with Valdez is Rougie Odor, who in 5 at-bats hit .400 off of him. Sunday’s game will be televised on WPIX and its affiliates, ATTSportsNet, and nationally on TBS.

Knicks could draft ‘elite’ passer to learn behind Derrick Rose as point guard solution

knicks, sharife cooper

One way or another, the New York Knicks will acquire a new point guard this off-season, whether it be through the NBA draft or free agency. Depending on how much the Knicks are willing to spend on the open market for a point guard will determine their strategy during the draft, but one great combination could involve a familiar face and an elite passing option at just 19 years old from Auburn.

While names like Davion Mitchell and Tre Mann litter the headlines for Knick fans, one player who’s going under the radar is Sharife Cooper. At 6’3” and 180 pounds, Cooper is a bit undersized as he prepares to enter the NBA, but having been named to the McDonald’s All American and Jordan Brand Classic team in 2020, he is preparing to take the step to the next level.

The Auburn product is considered one of the best facilitators in the upcoming draft class, containing elite passing traits and vision that mirrors the likes of Chris Paul and Trae Young.

“Sharife is a once-every-ten-year fast-breaking, playmaking, transition, and ball-screen floor general with his ability to make plays for himself and others,” Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl told Alder Almo of Empire Sports Media.

Statistically, he averaged 20.2 points, 8.1 assists and shot 39% from the field last season. While his three-point percentage sat at a lowly 23% over 4.8 attempts per game, there is reason to believe his shooting is better than advertised.

“He had a pied piper effect. He has the ability to bring other guys along with him which is great for a point guard,” Pearl said.

If Cooper can elevate his efficiency from the field and when driving to the rim, he could be an elite PG at the next level, but that is entirely dependent on the process in which he adapts to the NBA.

How the Knicks can set themselves up for the future without compromising the present:

An ideal situation for the Knicks, who might envision Sharife as the future at PG, could be to pair him with veteran Derrick Rose, who played well after being acquired from the Detroit Pistons at the trade deadline this past year.

Over 35 games in New York, Rose averaged 15 points, 4.2 assists, and shot a career-high 41% from three. In fact, he proved that he is still capable of starting on a daily basis and elevating a team with his impressive intuition and scoring attributes. While he might not contain the same athleticism he once did a decade ago, his veteran intelligence and wisdom show up frequently on the floor.

Placing Cooper behind Rose would allow the rookie to develop his floater and shooting traits while he eases his way into the NBA at just 20 years old. Defense might end up being Cooper’s biggest weakness, but some have compared him to Paul and Young in terms of their start in the NBA and how Cooper could mimic some of their qualities, including facilitation.

While there could be better options available for the Knicks in terms of immediate impact, like Davion’s elite defense, Cooper has the potential to be a premium scorer and passer to complement players like RJ Barrett and Julius Randle which can’t be overlooked.

Giants’ running back Saquon Barkley raves about Daniel Jones

New York Giants, Daniel Jones, Saquno Barkley

The New York Giants have made it a priority to inject the roster with high-quality people, let alone players. When they drafted Saquon Barkley second overall in 2018, they saw generational talent that coupled with a fantastic human being. Upgrading the roster also meant elevating the locker room and the leadership that quietly makes an impact behind the scenes.

While Barkley has been rehabilitating from a torn ACL, MCL, and partially torn meniscus, his spirits have been as high as ever. He spoke with Rich Eisen this past week, avoiding questions of his return and timetable for recovery, but was quick to rave about one of his teammates, quarterback Daniel Jones.

“I really don’t want to speak for Daniel, but just knowing Daniel, it is what it is. He has an amazing work ethic,” Barkley said. “I think anyone in the facility can see that clear as day. He’s a guy that’s going to come into work and is a guy that’s going to lead you and is a guy that’s going to compete. So I think that’s his mindset, is come in and try to get one percent better every day and lead this team.”

Jones had a bumpy start to his NFL career, showcasing his arm talent with 24 touchdowns in his rookie season before dropping to 11 this past year with a lack of playmakers and a debilitating hamstring injury.

The Duke product is hoping to take a step forward in the upcoming season after the Giants spent an egregious amount of funds to acquire Kenny Golladay in free agency and drafted Kadarius Toney with the 20th overall pick in the first round of the 2021 NFL draft.

Jones’s future success entirely relies on his protection scheme in the trenches, and the Giants didn’t do much to upgrade the unit aside from hiring two new couches consultant Pat Flaherty and OL coach Rob Sale. The expectation is that their young players on the line will see an increase in efficiency, specifically in pass blocking. If that ends up being the case, Jones will reap the rewards, with more time in the pocket to spread the ball to his playmakers.

Of course, the return of Barkley will have an immediate impact, drawing more attention from defenders in the box and allowing Jones to operate without additional blitzers being sent his way. If there’s anything we can guarantee, it is that his work ethic has helped him improve in various categories, but until we see him apply his talents during live-action, it’s all just hearsay.

Dana White says Poirier – McGregor 4 will happen after UFC 264 result

UFC 264 didn’t end the way that anyone thought it would. The main event was headlined by the third installment of Dustin Poirier (28-6, 1 NC) and Conor McGregor (22-6). Unlike the second fight which saw both men respect the other, the third fight was personal.

McGregor got off to a hot start again at UFC 264. Utilizing a steady diet of leg kicks, McGregor was controlling the striking early on in the fight. Poirier started slow again, but started to get comfortable after McGregor’s hot start.

Both men traded big shots before they clinched. McGregor synched in a guillotine choke that appeared tight for a moment, but Poirier fought through it. The Diamond then got the top position and spent most of the second half of the round reigning down shots on McGregor.

Near the end of the first, McGregor got back to his feet. Both threw big shots that missed and when McGregor stepped back, his ankle snapped. The round ended and UFC 264‘s main event ended with a doctor stoppage due to McGregor’s ankle injury.

The UFC’s Plans

It was clear that there was still no love lost between Poirier and McGregor after UFC 264. Poirier was mocking McGregor while McGregor used his post-fight interview to callout Poirier’s wife Jolie.

Dana White took the podium at the post-fight press conference and made it clear that these two will fight again. White said, “Dustin Poirier will fight for the title and when Conor is healed and ready to go, you do the rematch.”

White continued, “The fight didn’t get finished. You can’t have a fight finished that way so we will see how this whole thing plays out. Who knows how long Conor will be out. Poirier will do his thing until Conor is ready.”

Obviously, Poirier will be fighting UFC lightweight champion Charles Oliveira (31-8, 1 NC) next. Given how this fight ended, I would guess that the UFC aims to make that fight happen at the end of the year.

If Poirier wins that fight, the UFC will then move towards the fourth McGregor fight which would be massive especially if the lightweight title is on the line. Time will tell and a lot will depend on how McGregor heals.

Dustin Poirier wins at UFC 264 after Conor McGregor’s ankle snaps

In the main event of UFC 264, we saw the conclusion of the trilogy between Conor McGregor (22-5) and Dustin Poirier (27-6, 1 NC). The two men were looking to settle once and for all who is the better fighter.

The two first met at UFC 178 with McGregor scoring the TKO victory in the first round. That fight took place at featherweight during McGregor’s run to the top of the combat sports world. The win over Poirier proved just how talented Conor McGregor was.

Of course, McGregor went on to become a two-division UFC champion and the biggest star the sport has ever seen. With all the money and the fame, many have questioned the dedication of McGregor.

Back in January at UFC 257, Dustin Poirier evened the score with Conor McGregor. After getting touched up by some good shots in the first round, Poirier swarmed McGregor in the second with a barrage against the fence.

Dustin Poirier has been the best lightweight in the UFC over the past few years not named Khabib Nurmagomedov. Poirier has beaten all the top guys and was looking to earn a shot against Charles Oliveira tonight with a win over McGregor.

UFC 264 Recap

Round 1

The UFC 264 main event started with immediate pressure from McGregor. McGregor with spinning body kicks early. Big leg kick from Conor McGregor. Poirier circling on the outside and another leg kick lands for McGregor.

Another leg kick for McGregor lands. Poirier counters with his own and throws a big combination. McGregor plots forward as both settle in. Another big leg kick from McGregor. 1-2 from McGregor and Poirier blitzes with a huge combination.

McGregor forces the clinch and Poirier pushes him against the fence. A deep guillotine is in for McGregor, but Poirier fights through it and ends up on top. Poirier pops his head out and starts throwing bombs from the top.

Huge elbow lands for Dustin Poirier. Poirier moving right through the defense of McGregor here against the fence. However, McGregor lands massive elbows from the bottom. Poirier starts throwing bombs from the top and hurts McGregor.

McGregor is getting beaten up here on the ground. Poirier postures up and stands. McGregor lands a massive upkick and Poirier settles into the guard. Huge elbows from Poirier. They stand up and McGregor breaks his ankle. The fight ends with a McGregor injury.

Dustin Poirier def. Conor McGregor by TKO (Ankle Injury) – Round 1